It'll take until spring 2019 to be fully completed, but R&J Discount Liquor is going to undergo a major expansion and remodeling starting next month.
"This is actually Phase Two," says Jeff Breault, who owns the store on East Douglas just west of Hillside.
The first phase involved Breault and his wife, Shelly, buying the property next to them and demolishing a dog wash that used to be there, creating extra parking.
Now they're going to add 2,400 square feet to their existing 3,700-square-foot store.
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"So it actually will almost double our retail floor space," Jeff Breault says.
The existing footprint and building will remain, but the store will be extended in a couple of ways.
On the north side of the store, the building will extend north to Douglas and use up the entire parking lot in front of the store. Also, the overhang to the current entrance will be enclosed.
There also will be an addition and a new entrance on the west side of the building.
The Breaults have owned R&J for almost two decades.
"There was a liquor store going back into the '70s sometime," Jeff Breault.
He's been thinking about an expansion for some time.
"We are happy with what's going on in Wichita and the liquor-law environment," Breault says. "I feel like I'm not going to get put out of business by Walmart and Dillons."
On April 1, grocery stores will be able to start selling full-strength beer, but they still won't be able to carry wine or liquor.
At the same time, liquor stores won't be required to keep their smoke shops separate from alcohol sales any longer.
Breault says it will be good to incorporate that "very, very busy part of our business" into the rest of the store.
The flow of the store will be substantially different.
"The additional space will allow us to have much larger displays (and) much more shoppable displays," Breault says.
He says he'll be able to significantly increase the store's barrel-select bourbon offerings.
Breault says he already has a world-class collection of single-malt scotch, but he can't display it well.
In the remodeled store, he'll have a wall enclosed in glass to display 40- and 50-year-old scotch bottles, "some of which you can't find anywhere else in the country."
How does a Wichita liquor store have scotch that can't be found elsewhere nationally?
"Because the owner of the liquor store is crazy enough to buy and hold on to it because he likes to drink it if he has to also."
"You wouldn't want me to give you anything I haven't tested," Breault says.
He expects to break ground in July on the first part of the expansion and then take a break around the holidays so that season's sales will be unencumbered.
Next spring, the rest of the work will be completed, including the remainder of the exterior, a new office, loading area and tasting room.
"It'll be a built-in tasting area for sampling," Breault says.
Since the parking lot size was increased, he says, there's been an average increase of more than 6 percent of customers a month. Breault won't say how that transfers to sales.
He says the store's location has always been a good one, but it's especially so now.
"We're very happy with what's happening in the Douglas Avenue corridor."
Breault says the city has confirmed its commitment to keep the corridor four lanes and a major thoroughfare connecting downtown and the east side.
"We feel we're in the perfect spot to keep serving Wichita and our current clientele," he says. "With a larger footprint, it'll only be better."